28 June, 2017A group of young workers from Latin American and Germany attended the final stage of a three-year trade union exchange programme, where they presented projects designed to organize young workers in their unions.
The first two main exchange meetings took place in Brazil in 2015 and Argentina in 2016, where participants learned about the trade union situation in each other's countries and the culture and history of these places.
The final meeting took place at IG Metall's education centre in Sprockhövel, and it was the turn of German trade unionists to speak about the history of their country and trade union movement. Members described their trade union’s structure, the collective bargaining system and how young workers organize at company level and within IG Metall/DGB in Germany.
“The exchange is very important to me. We have learned a lot about political and personal issues that went beyond strictly trade union matters. It doesn't matter what country you are from, or what language you speak, we are all fighting for the same thing – a fair world!”
said Felina Bodner of IG Metall.
Although the meetings were mainly dedicated to trade union issues, participants also had the opportunity to talk to representatives of civil society initiatives. For example, they learned about the campaign against the fascist political party, the NPD, and about the youth campaign against the G20.
They also discussed the importance of empowering women in all fields and the role of young workers in fighting for and achieving genuine change:
“It is important to know that there is global unity and solidarity in the women's struggle for economic and social emancipation and against domination and exploitation”.
We can pass on what we have learned is part of the transformation that we are seeking. Although there is still a long way to go, I now feel I have the support of a strong international youth movement,”
said Mariel Scamporrino of the UOM, Argentina.
When presenting their Trade Union Action Plans, participants described their project for organizing young workers in the unions, indicating what they hoped to achieve, the difficulties associated with implementation and the prospects for the future. Almost all the projects focused on encouraging youth participation by taking action to strengthen union youth policies and IndustriALL action plan guidelines.
“I have learned a lot from this three-year project. I had no idea about trade union systems in other countries and the difficulties they experience and how they deal with them on a daily basis. For example, look what is happening in Nicaragua, where workers are criminalized for protesting in defence of their rights!”
said Antonio Rodrígues Ferreira, a member of IndustriALL Brazilian affiliate FEQUIMFAR/FS.
Participants visited the Ford car plant in Cologne, where they met the youth representatives on the works council. They explained the legal basis for creating works councils and about the role of trade union delegates.
“The young workers all grew tremendously during the three years of the training programme. They gained in confidence, which probably helped them take on roles as trade union leaders. This is definitely not the end of the process but rather the start of something bigger!”
Sarah Flores, IndustriALL global youth projects officer, concluded.
The project was designed by IndustriALL and funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany, in collaboration with and with the support of IG Metall and trade unions in Argentina and Brazil.